In the Marrakech medina, near the Mellah (Jewish quarter), the Bahia Palace sprawls across 8 hectares in an incoherent series of reception halls, living quarters, courtyards and gardens. It was built in two phases by father and son Grand Viziers, first 1859-1873 and then 1894-1900. Today, the palace is home to the Moroccan Ministry of Cultural Affairs and is still used by the king to host the occasional visiting dignitary.
The sedate façade reveals nothing of the splendid interiors, with elaborately carved, painted and inlaid cedar ceilings, vivid tile and marble floors and walls, stained glass windows and serene courtyards that seem a world away from the chaotic medina just outside. Some of the palace is closed to the general public, but those areas that are open do a good job representing the various moods of the palace as a whole.